Friday, April 26, 2013

PROJECT: TESLA-RACING (VAPORWARE POST)

TESLA-RACING

You may be wondering what the heck that thing is?
 It's got 4 cylindrical things near the extents, and is sitting on a flat surface.
Therefore it must be a spaceship, AM I RIGHT?!

okay, just kidding. It's a teaser render of what I'm calling a TeslaRacer.
As the name suggests, the car(s) will use electro/magnetism to generate the correct amount of grip for a realistic racing experience.

The idea for this project was implanted in my head while I was watching the Bahrain Formula 1 race on TV a week ago. 
(If you're into formula 1 and you haven't seen the race, I highly recommend you find it online or on TV somewhere. It was a very exciting and entertaining race from start to finish and I really enjoyed it.)
As I was watching the race I was trying to compare RC car racing to it's full size counterpart...I ended up coming up with this conclusion.

 RC cars are very fast for their scale.
1:10 scale RC touring cars routinely reach speeds of 60mph or more on a large track. That means if they were full size cars, they would be traveling at a blistering 600 miles per hour.

1:10 Scale
Most of these RC cars are raced on a track that is quite a bit smaller than 1:10 scale of an actual race track at which their full-scale counterparts would compete at. Granted, the lane widths are exaggerated to compensate and make it possible to keep the car on the track without hitting everything every time.
Even with the generously wide track it's still quite hard to keep the car on all 4's while managing a good lap time...throw in 9 other cars and now you have to deal with passing or being passed. Everything happens really, really quickly. In fact, too quickly for most average drivers to react. Even the pro level drivers run into each other almost every time trying to pass or block...sometimes on purpose, sometimes because it happens too quickly to react.

Smaller Scales
The problem with current small scale RC cars is very similar to my statement above, the speed is far too much for a normal human to react quickly enough to control the car in a realistic manner, even more so when overtaking or being overtaken, therefore the tracks have been adjusted to make it possible for racing to take place, but really all that you're doing is passing the other yellow blur that just so happened to miss the apex by 16 inches, when you only missed it by 8 inches.
Which brings me to my solution:
TESLA-RACING.
The end goal of TESLA-RACING is to provide an in home hyper-realistic racing experience for minimal cost and without the need for superhuman reflexes, while maintaining a minimal footprint so that a realistic track may be permanently set up in a spare room or a shed.

TESLA-RACING is unique because it allows the driver to race on a track which is scale width, nearly scale speed, with realistic handling and grip levels. In other words, full-size car racing knowledge applies when driving a TeslaRacer. In order to complete a fast lap you must understand the limits of the car                   and the limits of the track.
 Ex: how fast you can travel around certain corners, the correct entry and exit line, and the braking points etc. All of this will transfer over to TESLA-RACING.

The Track:
Enter the MagnaTrack.
(MagaTrack Prototype-1 racing surface/pit lane layout without scenery or detailing.)



Wait,.... MAGNA...track?, MAGNA? ...Are there magnets in the track as well as the cars?
Why yes, yes there are.
That's the one of the main advantages of the TESLA-RACING system.

There are in fact electro-magnets embedded in the racing surface. This allows the builder to define a realistic racing line as well as have the ability to simulate many different track or weather conditions.
The cars generate a small amount of mechanical grip all by themselves (how cute), but this is where the beauty of the system lies. 

Everything is tune-able!
Speaking about the track tune-ability, say you've decided to simulate a rain race. You would go about this by turning the track magnetism level to a very low setting, but not entirely off since you still want to simulate a  racing line, which is accurate to full size racing. A 'dry line' appears from cars displacing water as they travel about the circuit, so it's reasonable to have a small amount of grip on the racing line, that's not to say you can go full out like you could in dry conditions.


TeslaCars, 1:32 scale.
I've based these first prototype on 1:32 scale dimensions. The concept can be applied to any scale, but this size seemed most do-able from the manufacturing point, as well as keeping the size of a decent sized track compact enough that you don't need to buy a warehouse to enjoy it.



Another good reason to base the cars off of 1:32 scale is that there is a wide range of realistic 1:32 scale  slot cars of which to steal the bodies from. You can purchase pretty much any car you'd like in 1:32 scale. It seems as though almost everything has been made at some point or another and all you have to do it look around. I've been watching Ebay and purchasing models of full size cars from racing series' that I'm interested in,  hoping that I would be able to make use of them some day...this seems like the perfect application.

The handling is tune-able.
The handling of a car can be tuned rather easily.
There are 6 separate magnets located on the underside of the chassis.
 There is a magnet placed at each corner of the furthest extending part of the chassis located near the front and rear wheels. These magnets are the largest magnets used on the car,                                                  and they set the overall grip level of the car. 
For instance,
 a Formula One car should not have the same amount of grip as a Toyota Prius hybrid.(sorry Toyota). Therefore, the Formula One car will have much larger magnets than the Prius, increasing the grip level.
Handling can also be tuned by magnet size and placement.
 there are 2 further magnets to complete the 6 magnet set. Both located underneath the car,
 one at the rear and one at the front.
 These are small magnets, basically to control how much each end of the car is allowed to slide, and which end slides first.
 For instance, if you have a rear engine sports car it will most likely me more tail happy for the same tire width/size, similar wheel base/track width, and similar power levels. So, to simulate this correctly, you'd need a larger/stronger front magnet, and a smaller/weaker rear magnet. It's all a balancing game, you can completely change the handling characteristics of a car just by the amount of magnets, the size,
 and the placement.

With these first prototypes I will be using conventional RC equipment which limits the choice of car subject to be simulated due to space and layout inside the bodies.
 Eventually I'd like to develop a standalone unit based off of a single PCB with a tailored form factor that's more conducive to fitting underneath some of the more spatially challenged subjects.

(TeslaCar Prototype-1, a simple design for evaluation purposes.)

I'm currently at the point where I'm ready to start making things, and I'll post an update as soon as I make some progress towards the end goal. Hopefully some of you are as excited as I am about this project, and it can eventually end up being a thing people can buy/make themselves, and in home realistic RC racing can be had by all!

-Ryan



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